1. Processof Communication
Communicationisaprocesswherebyinformationisencoded,channeledandsentbya sendertoa receiverviasome
All formsof communicationrequire a sender,achannel,a message,a receiverandthe feedback.
A hindrance inthe communicationprocessiscalled noise
Sender:The person who intends to convey the message with the intention of passing information
and ideasto others is known as sender or communicator.
Message:This is the subject matter of the communication. This may be an opinion, attitude,
feelings, views, orders, or suggestions.
Encoding:Since the subject matter of communication is theoretical and intangible, its further
passing requires use of certain symbols such as words, actions or pictures etc. Conversion of
subject matter into these symbols is the process of encoding.
Communication Channel:The person who is interested in communicating has to choose the
channel for sending the required information, ideas etc. This information is transmitted to the
receiver through certain channels which may be either formal or informal.
Receiver:Receiver is the person who receives the message or for whom the message is meant
for. It is the receiver who tries to understand the message in the best possible manner in achieving
the desired objectives.
Decoding:The person who receives the message or symbol from the communicator tries to
convert the same in such a way so that he may extract its meaning to his complete understanding.
FeedbackFeedback is the process of ensuring that the receiver has received the message and
understood in the same sense as sender meant it.
2. Barriers to Communication
Language and linguistic ability may act as a barrier to communication.
However, even when communicating in the same language, the terminology used in a message may act as a barrier if it is
not fully understood by the receiver(s). For example, a message that includes a lot of specialist jargon and abbreviations
will not be understood by a receiver who is not familiar with the terminology used.
Regional colloquialisms and expressions may be misinterpreted or even considered offensive. See our page: Effective
Speaking for more information.
The psychological state of the communicators will influence how the message is sent, received and
For example, if someone is stressed they may be preoccupied by personal concerns and not as receptive to the message
as if they were not stressed.
Stress management is an important personal skill that affects our interpersonal relationships. See our pages Stress:
Symptoms and Triggers and Avoiding Stress for more information.
Anger is another example of a psychological barrier to communication, when we are angry it is easy to say things that we
may later regret and also to misinterpret what others are saying.
See our pages: What is Anger?, Anger Management and Anger Management Therapy for more information.
More generally people with low self-esteem may be less assertive and therefore may not feel comfortable communicating -
they may feel shy about saying how they really feel or read negative sub-texts into messages they hear.
Visit our pages on Improving Self-Esteem and Assertiveness for more information.
Physiological barriers may result from the receiver’s physical state.
For example, a receiver with reduced hearing may not grasp to entirety of a spoken conversation especially if there is
significant background noise.
An example of a physical barrier to communication is geographic distance between the sender and
Communication is generally easier over shorter distances as more communication channels are available and less
technology is required. Although modern technology often serves to reduce the impact of physical barriers, the advantages
and disadvantages of each communication channel should be understood so that an appropriate channel can be used to
overcome the physical barriers.
3. Systematic Barriers
Systematic barriers to communication may exist in structures and organisations where there are inefficient or inappropriate
information systems and communication channels, or where there is a lack of understanding of the roles and
responsibilities for communication. In such organisations, individuals may be unclear of their role in the communication
process and therefore not know what is expected of them.
Attitudinal barriers are behaviours or perceptions that prevent people from communicating
Attitudinal barriers to communication may result from personality conflicts, poor management, resistance to change or
a lack of motivation. Effective receivers of messages should attempt to overcome their own attitudinal barriers to
facilitate effective communication.
The use of jargon. Over-complicated, unfamiliar and/or technical terms.
Emotional barriers and taboos. Some people may find it difficult to express their emotions and some topics may be
completely 'off-limits' or taboo.
Lack of attention, interest, distractions, or irrelevance to the receiver. (See our page Barriers to Effective
Listening for more information).
Differences in perception and viewpoint.
Physical disabilities such as hearing problems or speech difficulties.
Physical barriers to non-verbal communication. Not being able to see the non-verbal cues, gestures, posture and
general body language can make communication less effective.
Language differences and the difficulty in understanding unfamiliar accents.
Expectations and prejudices which may lead to false assumptions or stereotyping. People often hear what they
expect to hear rather than what is actually said and jump to incorrect conclusions.
Cultural differences. The norms of social interaction vary greatly in different cultures, as do the way in which emotions
are expressed. For example, the concept of personal space varies between cultures and between different social settings.
See our page on Intercultural Awareness for more information.
4. Overcoming barriers to Communication
Understand others see things differently to you. Try to predict the feelings and attitude of the receiver. What will
their expectation be? What about their state of mind when you are communicating? What prejudices might they have?
If you know these things before communicating, you reduce the risk if misinterpretation.
2) Get feedback from the receiver. Don’t just ask, ‘Do you Understand?’. They will more often than not say ‘yes’
because they see things in the way they want to understand it. Ask instead what is their understanding of the message,
and how they see it.
3) As often as possible, speak face-to-face. This will allow for questions and, most importantly, allow you to see the
body language, which will convey much more meaning than over the phone or through email.
4) Use language that fits the audience. Don’t try to impress by using language and words that may be distorted by
the listener(s). It simply makes them confused and inadequate. Plus, they won’t be listening to you while they try to
work out what on earth you are on about.
5) Use the right communication channel. Don’t send an email if it’s quicker to pick up the phone or go and talk to
the person. Use email for its proper purpose. We are rapidly losing the art of conversation…don’t add to that by using
the wrong channel.
6) Have integrity and honesty in your communications. If you are seen as being someone who lacks integrity, this
will immediately be noticed and even more barriers will be built up between you and the listener.
7) Make it easy for others to listen to you. Make your communication style that one of a conversationalist, one who
is able to make a point quickly, succinctly and with conviction. If your key message is lost in the morass of a thousand
words, people will wonder what you mean and what the purpose is. Clarity and brevity are the watchwords.
Be aware that barriers exist in every contact, and it may not be possible for you to ensure clarity every time, because
others will have their own subconscious agenda. By following the above ideas you certainly reduce the risk of barriers
interrupting the key messages you want to make.